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Don’t believe any claim about private cloud market share

by Alessandro Perilli  |  December 6, 2013  |  16 Comments

Despite all hype, the private cloud computing market is still in its infancy. The enterprise customers deploying what we call at Gartner “cloud management platforms” (CMPs) are in the order of the thousands. Not insignificant, especially given the size of the accounts that buy CMPs, but far away from mainstream adoption.

Evaluating the few dozen alternatives (you can read a list of them in my research document Market Profile: Cloud Management Platforms, 2013), IT organizations naturally try to understand which vendor is preferred by industry peers, or more in general which CMP is the most deployed. Answering the question is all but simple, and it’s easy to be misled.

The most sophisticated CMPs usually are a bundle of multiple management tools retrofitted to address the cloud management use case, glued together by some unification code or point to point integration.
When a vendor cannot count on an existing application portfolio to repurpose, it has to proceed with a bunch of acquisitions, but the end result is the same: a collection of different tools that must work together in a way they were never meant to.
In fact, a way to measure how mature a CMP is consists of evaluating how well its management modules integrate with each other.

In many cases, a large enterprise already owns and uses one or more management tools that coincidentally are also offered as part of a CMP. Hence, the vendor upsells the CMP for that installation base. The customer may well buy the CMP license but does not necessarily deploy any additional component.
In other situations, given how many modules a CMP may include, and how complex is to deploy and operate all of them, customers actually use just a couple of them, out of four, six, twelve included in the SKU, hoping to roll out the others with a phased approach (that may take years).
The result is a series of claims where vendors report great customer wins, but where in reality customers deployed a couple of CMP modules long before they were included in a CMP SKU, and maybe those modules are not even the ones that should be considered key enablement for cloud management.

Then there are those situations where customers decide to implement a CMP but their expectations are completely failed in just six-to-twelve months. Many things can go wrong: the deployment time promised by the vendor goes beyond the deadlines, the CMP features are insufficient to the address customer’s needs, the integration with the existing enterprise management tools requires a lot of unexpected professional services activity, and much more.
In all those situations, the IT organization has to go back to the drawing board, select a different CMP, and go through the painful process of replacing the unsatisfying product.

That’s why, when we evaluate CMP market penetration at Gartner, we spent a great amount of time reviewing customer references, asking people what pieces of the CMP they actual deploy, how they are using them, or if they changed CMP for some reason. Sometimes the interview reveals that what the vendor sold as a CMP implementation actually is not, or it’s not even close to what it should be in terms of components deployed and how they are used. In other situations, we incidentally discover that a CMP has been abandoned in favor of a different one.

Bottom line: don’t believe claims about private cloud market share. Every implementation must be carefully reviewed and re-verified after a few months. And this exercise paints a picture that can be very different from the one CMP vendors describe.

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Tags: cloud-management-platforms  gartner-for-technical-professionals-gtp  

Alessandro Perilli
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
16 years IT industry

Alessandro Perilli is a research director for Data Center Strategies in the IT Professionals Research group at Gartner. Alessandro covers private cloud computing and cloud management platforms. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Don’t believe any claim about private cloud market share

  1. I will gloss over the very practical problem that the moment an CMP ISV outlines a strategy… the lag between the start and the end of the fully integrated state you describe is long enough to have changed dramatically the market landscape and “what cloud means”. In other words our imagination marches two orders of magnitude faster than the (practical) ability to execute.

    I think there is an even bigger (albeit philosophical) problem we are facing at the moment. Customers are right now in what I call the “infinite pendulum swing”.

    Give them a fully-integrated fool-proven software stack and they will blame the CMP vendor they are trying to lock them in.

    Give them a very open and modular stack where you can plug different components in and out and they will blame the CMP vendor (and everyone in general) that this is an odd experience and they need more integration.

    I don’t think there is an easy out out of this swing. If the customer wants full integration they need to understand that moving away from that whole stack is going to be difficult / impossible.

    If they want more flexibility they need to understand they need to invest a tons of time / money to build that integration themselves.

    In the middle of all this there are customers that have no clue what’s going on in this industry IMO.

    I am also questioning whether a “private cloud” can even exist and makes any sense.

    Massimo (disclosure: I work for VMware. This is my opinion, not necessarily the position of my employer).

  2. Daniel says:

    Well put, Massimo. As an employee on a large enterprise, I can fully recognize all of the above. Facing new technology (or should we say new ways to implement them), I find camps within the organization prefer rut one or the other vendor.

    This, by puuuure chance, happens to correlate to which part of the OSI stack/classic technology area these camps traditionally relate to. Yes, I’m looking at you: storagers, wintellers, you other x86/64:ers, networkers, *nixers and sysmgrtoolers! Surely I missed someone on my list.

  3. Private and Public have been equally successfull. Neither has made the predicted impact.

    Coud providers that aren’t offering Private / hybrid solutions ideally on their clients’ land must start now.

  4. I agree there are companies smashing infrastructure, tools and code together to cobble a CMP and it’s a new market with questionable facts, figures and expectations. I’d argue that any CMP that isn’t the same architecture and product that is sold in a public Cloud form then it’s just Managed Service that includes the equipment. The term Private Cloud has been hijacked from a single tenant Cloud service to almost anything that isn’t multi-tenant.
    This makes it a very difficult market to evaluate and even more difficult to understand market share.

  5. […] week Alessandro Perilli of Gartner posted one of his controversial takes on cloud. In this particular post he, basically, pointed out that many CMP vendors aren’t really selling a truly integrated […]

  6. […] clouds still spark a comical amount of angst among vendors, analysts, and IT professionals. Massimo Re Ferrè had a brilliant comment on the concept using his pendulum example – you can find an expanded post on his ideas […]

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